We are a boutique law firm based on the Central Coast of New South Wales and are specialists accredited by the Law Society of NSW in the field of Local Government and Planning Law.  We have served the Central Coast community for over 40 years, protecting our clients’ rights and interests and helping them navigate the legal system.  We have a demonstrated expertise in early dispute resolution and mediation and aim to help you resolve your problems without the need for expensive litigation.

Our clients include private developers, corporations and individuals as well as local government authorities.  We provide you with a personal and individualised service tailored to your needs.

There are over 28,000 solicitors in New South Wales and only 51 of them are accredited specialists in Local Government and Planning Law.  Our firm specialises in the provision of legal services to the planning and development industry, as well as providing legal services in the areas of conveyancing, commercial law, and wills and estates, as well as criminal law.  All your matters will be handled by a qualified solicitor, in a careful and professional manner.   

Our aim is to be the best boutique environmental planning and development law firm in Australia, providing excellent client services across a range of other practice areas to meey our clients’ legal needs, and help them negotiate the complex legal issues they face in their businesses and lives.



Robert is one of the co-principals of PJ Donnellan & Co.  He was admitted as a Solicitor in 1992 after graduating with a BA LLB from Macquarie University, and has been with our firm since 1995, having also practiced law in regional NSW.

Robert is highly experienced in all aspects of property law and is the principal lawyer looking after our conveyancing and other property needs.  He has expertise not only in purchases and sales but specialist property needs including easements, leases and subdivisions, having looked after the conveyancing needs of local government authorities and developers for many years.

Robert also practices extensively in the areas of wills and estates.  He can assist in the preparation of your will, whether it be a simple document or involve testamentary trusts.  Robert can also assist in the administration of estates and help make the Probate process a simple one for you.  Robert has also acted on numerous family provision claims and challenges to wills, acting both for executors defending the will and for beneficiaries who have been overlooked.

Robert was, until recently, the chairperson of the Positive Support Network on the Central Coast and still is an active supporter of the local LGBT community. Having recently moved to the southern end of the Central Coast he is getting to know his new local area and the needs of the community there.


Together with Robert Byrd, Pauline is a co-principal of our firm.  She is an accredited specialist in Local Government and Planning Law, with a background in criminal law which was her major field of practice for her first 15 years as a solicitor.  She graduated with a BA LLB from Macquarie University in 1985 with a double major in Law and Mass Communications, and was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales the same year.  Pauline also holds a Graduate Diploma from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Pauline has served on the Council of the Law Society of NSW for 19 years and is presently the Junior Vice President.  She sits as chair of the Audit Committee and the Environmental Planning and Development and Criminal Law Committees and is a member of the Indigenous Legal Issues and Professional Standards Disclosure Committees.  She is a regular spokesperson in the media for the Law Society on a range of current legal issues.

Being interested in the probity and effectiveness of the planning system in NSW, Pauline is also President of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (NSW) Central Coast Chapter.  She is a past Vice President of NSW Women Lawyers and is a member of TCOL Limited (the College of Law) and has served as a Governor of the Law and Justice Foundation and Commissioner of the Legal Aid Commission of NSW, where she continues to sit on the Legal Aid Review, Serious Criminal Law Selection Panel and Specialist Barristers Selection Panel committees.  She is also a past director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and is a director of the Public Interest Law Clearing House.

Pauline has been Senior Vice President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties since about 1998 and has over the years been active as a spokesperson lobbying for civil and human rights, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, anti-terrorism and asylum-seeker policy.

Pauline is also a keen ocean swimmer, surf lifesaver, singer, actor, theatre producer, director and writer.


Patrick Donnellan OAM graduated with Bachelor of Arts in 1966 and Bachelor of Laws in 1970 from Sydney University and as Master of Arts from the University of New South Wales in 1991 majoring in French.  Patrick has the Diplôme Supérieur de Français des Affaires.  He was admitted as Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW in 1970 and has practised law in Gosford ever since.

Patrick has practised extensively over the years in the Land and Valuation Court, the Local Government Appeals Tribunal and the Land and Environment Court and has appeared in every Court from the High Court of Australia to the Local Court which has jurisdiction in relation to Local Government affairs and has had an abiding interest in all areas of Local Government Law, particularly in the area of planning and environmental law.

Patrick is an accredited Specialist in Local Government and Planning Law. He   is also an accredited mediator, having gained qualifications and accreditation through Bond University in 2011.

Patrick has an extensive knowledge of Local Government and Planning and Development Law, Local Government legal needs and an understanding of and how those needs may best be met.  It would be correct to describe Patrick as one of the most experienced practitioners in the specialised field of providing legal services to Local Government, having appeared in hundreds of cases of greater and lesser importance over the years.  

Patrick was the President of the Gosford Philharmonia Inc. from 1977 to 2006 and was President of the Central Coast Law Society from 2000 to 2002.  He is one of the fifteen senior practitioners who form the New South Wales Local Government Lawyers Group. He was awarded the OAM in 2013 for services to the Community of Gosford.



Holly is the newest member of the team at PJ Donnellan & Co having joined the firm in November 2016.  Already Holly has established herself as a vital part of our firm, her enthusiasm and understanding of the law has helped her assist many clients already.

Holly grew up at Avoca Beach and has a great understanding of the people, the economy and the environment of the Central Coast.  Holly completed her legal studies, including honours in her Bachelor of Law in November 2015 and was later admitted as solicitor in the Supreme Court of NSW. 

Holly took some time off to travel the world before commencing her employment.  Holly has thrown herself not only into her work but also into the law and the legal profession in general.  She has already become a member of several NSW Young Lawyers’ committees and is representing our firm on the Central Coast chapter of the Urban Development Institute of Australia.

Holly has always had an interest in sport and the outdoors, especially the beach.  She has a passion for interior designing and spends her spare time planning overseas adventures.

During her time with the firm Holly has already gained experience in a wide range of legal areas including;

  • Contract and Commercial law
  • Criminal Law
  • Traffic Law
  • Civil Litigation
  • Planning and Environmental Law
  • Wills and Estates
  • Conveyancing (Real Estate)

Holly is available to assist you in all these matters.


Donna has been providing her invaluable skills to the running of PJ Donnellan & Co for over 20 years.  Donna is the office manager and oversees our accounts; her exceptional skills are key to the smooth running of our practice.  Donna is currently looking for ways to improve our delivery of legal services and is herself undertaking further studies through the University of Newcastle.


Tracey is an experienced legal secretary having worked in legal offices for over 29 years and has been with our firm for 10 years.  Tracey provides personal assistant services to Pauline Wright and has wide legal experience including conveyancing, estates, and litigation.  Tracey has high level skills with Word and is responsible for maintenance of our precedent system.  Tracey keeps everyone in the office well supplied with treats from her Thermomix.


Di is a senior legal secretary and paralegal who has been with P J Donnellan & Co for 23 years.  She has been personal assistant to Patrick Donnellan for over 14 years.  Her experience extends from Land and Environment Court work, to contested estates and probate, as well as commercial and domestic conveyancing.  Di is a highly skilled and valued member of our staff and looks after a great deal of administration including our in-house stamping of documents for the Office of State Revenue.